Common Reasons for Truck Drivers to Get Distracted

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Authored by Ed Rebenack, Esq.

These Common Distractions Might Be Behind Your Trucking Accident

Distracted driving is responsible for 8.5{86fd5d6fd2392534aeb4445c3e09d6c02c8920f45d65ec0a1f9f301ed505a591} of all fatal vehicle crashes. When a driver is distracted, they are more likely to make mistakes or fail to react to danger in time. Unfortunately, there are all sorts of reasons for truck drivers to get distracted while they’re on the job.

Cell Phone Distractions

The number one cause of distracted driving is cell phones. Especially now that most phones come loaded with games and social media, it’s very easy to get distracted by them. Phone distractions are risky because they impair the driver in multiple ways. Drivers often have to take their eyes off the road and remove their hands from the wheel to use their phones. Furthermore, the phone can be very mentally distracting, making it hard for a driver to focus on their tasks. Overall, texting increases a driver’s risk of a crash by 23.2 times. FMCSA regulations keep truck drivers from using the phone at work, but those who skip these guidelines put themselves and others at risk.

Using Other Electronic Devices

Phones are the most frequently misused type of electronic device, but they aren’t the only distraction. Some distractions occur due to perfectly acceptable items like GPS devices. Though these are helpful, they can end up causing a driver to take their eyes off the road. Some drivers may also fall into the trap of trying to combat boredom with devices like DVD players or gaming consoles. Though it’s very rare for truckers to use these highly dangerous and illegal forms of distraction, occasionally it does happen. If a trucker is using one of these items when an accident occurs, you will usually have grounds to sue them. Depending on the outcome, you can end up getting compensation for a truck accident you were in.

Eating, Drinking, or Smoking

Truck drivers are given scheduled breaks for getting food, but sometimes, they might not get enough time to finish their meals. The pressures of a trucker’s schedule mean that they often end up eating, drinking, or smoking while they drive. However, this type of distraction is often quite dangerous. While doing things like adding ketchup to a burger, a driver might end up taking their eyes off the road. Even looking away for a split second can be enough to make a driver start drifting out of their lane. Eating also means they have to take a hand off the wheel, so they cannot respond as promptly if something happens. If a driver happens to spill a drink or drop food in their lap, their instinctive reaction can be enough to cause an accident.

Attempting to Reach Other Items

Since truck drivers are spending hours or even days inside of their trucks, they tend to accumulate a lot of objects inside the cab. Unfortunately, some drivers make the mistake of trying to search for belongings in the middle of a drive. When a driver is doing something like feeling around on the floorboard for a pack of cigarettes, they can end up taking their eyes off the road. Doing things like trying to reach around behind the back of the seat for a jacket can also put the driver’s body in a position that makes it hard to react if they need to brake or swerve. It can be especially dangerous if a driver takes both hands off the wheel while leaning over to get something.

Texting and driving - RAM Law NJ Trucking Accident Lawyers

Attempting to Adjust Controls

Of course, adjusting controls is usually a typical and necessary part of driving. In fact, a good truck driver should be doing things like turning on their lights or windshield wipers as needed. However, in some cases, adjustments can become a distraction. A driver who is busy looking at radio stations or messing with their AC fan might not be able to respond in time to issues. Anything that makes them take their hand off the wheel for a while can end up contributing to an accident. Whether or not this type of distracted driving qualifies as a reason for a truck accident lawsuit typically depends on whether the driver was messing with necessary controls and how long they were distracted by the adjustments.

Interactions With Pets and Passengers

Since they spend so much time on the road, many truck drivers like to bring pets or other passengers along with them. Just having another person to talk to in the cab does not necessarily mean the driver is distracted. However, there are many interactions that can cross the line into unsafe driving. For example, if a driver has a large dog sitting on their lap, they may not be able to see the road clearly or move their arms to steer around obstacles. A driver could also be distracted if they are turning to look at another person when they should have their eyes on the road. Any time there was another person or animal in the truck, your trucking accident attorney may need to consider the possibility that the driver was distracted.

Distracting Events or Items Outside

Not all distractions that cause trucking accidents are inside of the cab with the trucker. There are all sorts of things en route that can end up causing issues. A driver can get distracted if they are too busy looking at an accident, a flashy billboard, or a roadside attraction. This is why it’s a good idea to take a few pictures of the setting for your trucking accident. It can help to identify potential distractions that might mean the truck driver was no longer paying close attention to the road while they drove.

Mental Distractions

There is a broad range of legal driving pastimes that can end up causing issues. Any time a trucker is not focused on the road, they might be slow to brake, switch lanes without seeing a car in their blind spot, or make other mistakes. Things like audiobooks, a phone call, or radio alerts can all end up causing distractions. It can be hard to prove that this sort of mental distraction was enough to cause an accident. However, it can contribute to building an overall case about a driver’s negligence.

Drugs or Alcohol

Unfortunately, some truckers may use drugs in an attempt to combat the boredom of driving for hours at a time. This can be quite dangerous. Even if the drugs are not something that makes a driver dose off at the wheel, they are still very distracting. Things like stimulants can cause the driver to focus on items besides the road, while opioids can make it very easy to quit paying attention to driving. If a driver is using any medication in a way not prescribed by their doctor, their driving can be affected.

If you suspect that distracted driving contributed to your trucking accident, it is wise to seek legal advice. A trucking accident attorney may be able to help you get compensation for medical bills and other expenses. With years of experience handling trucking lawsuits, RAM Law has the expertise to handle these challenging lawsuits. Our team is happy to provide a free case review at one of our offices, conveniently located in New Brunswick and Somerville. Call now at 732-394-1549 or fill out our online contact form.

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